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accordingly secure, amongst other things, the
lion's share of the pastry produce.

Indifference to family ties is a natural corollary
to taking the veil. One day, two nuns,
sisters, were occupied with their devotions in
the choir, measuring, as in the days of the
Decameron, their hour of prayer by a clepsydra.
They had an only brother, engaged in the
diplomatic service. A ring at the bell announced a
communication from without. The lay sister
hastened to learn what it was. A piece of
sorrowful news for them had arrived. After failing
in his duty to the government, their brother had
blown his brains out.

"What is the matter with you?" they asked
the sister, who hurried back in great agitation.

"The prince's servant —— "

" What does he want?"

"Your brother —— " The sister hesitated.

" Out with it, for Heaven's sake! Is he ill?"

"If it were only that!" exclaimed the sister.
"He is dead!"

"Holy Virgin Mary! Dead! How? He
is dead?"

"He has destroyed himself." And she
related the facts.

The two nuns exchanged glances, raised their
eyes to heaven with joined hands, and then, with
icy indifference, " Anna!" said one.

"Camilla!" said the other.

"May Heaven receive his soul! But the
water in the clepsydra is nearly out. Let us
conclude our meditation." There was no further
mention of the brother's death until at
mealtime, between the cheese and the fruit, as
people say.

Another nun, while the refectory bell was
ringing, received a letter acquainting her with
her sister's death. "Don't mention, for the
present, what has happened," she whispered to
the person who delivered it. " I should have
to abstain from eating, and I am dying with

As to the vow of humility, Madame Caracciolo
tells us that nuns who do not boast of their
noble blood are quite as rare as snow-white
flies. They will receive, as boarders, none but
young ladies belonging to the oldest families.
Thus, two girls, the offspring of a plebeian
father and a patrician mother, were not admitted
into the convent until they had formally
promised to repudiate their father's name and adopt
their mother's. Nuns, in their squabbles, always
bring up the question as to which is more noble
than the other.

There were some who, when a procession was
expected to pass, claimed precedence
everywhere, even on the belvederes on the top of the
roof. At their approach, the other nuns were
expected to give way immediately. They did
not even scruple to make them move while hearing
mass, if the places occupied pleased their
fancy. A severe and stern preacher having had
the hardihood to reproach them with the life
they led, they gave him to understand that it
was not the place of low-born ecclesiastics to
make such remarks to the daughters of Neapolitan
dukes and princes. Finally, there are
convents where the superior offers her knee to be
kissed, and others even where, like the Pope,
she receives kisses on her slipper.

The ignorance of some of these abbesses is
hard to describe. People mixing with the world
would not credit their stupidity. According to
one of them, what antiquaries tell us about the
destruction of Pompeii is only a mass of absurdity
Pompeii was once inhabited by a race of
unbelieving miscreants, who destroyed with
hammers, in the public square, the miraculous statue
of St. Januarius. The mountain which overhung
the town, trembling at such audacity,
immediately vomited the deluge of burning ashes
which buried for ever the heretical city.

Enrichetta had been denounced to the abbess
as a reader of "mundane" booksthat is,
books treating of other than religious topics.
Being watched without suspecting it, she
was caught by the superior with a book in her

"What pious work are you reading there, my
daughter?" she inquired. Not having the
time to hide the book, there was no choice
except to show it, but not without fear and
trembling as to the rebuke which might ensue.
The abbess put on her spectacles, read the
title-page, closed the volume, and returned it,
saying, " Memoirs of St. Helena. Ah! The
life of the mother of St. Constantine! Poor
child! How unjustly they calumniate you!"

It was the Memorial of St. Helena. Soon
afterwards, Enrichetta acquired the certainty
that the excellent abbess of San Gregorio had
never heard of Napoleon the First.

The privation of liberty, the uniformity of
their existence, the monotony of their impressions,
the frivolity of their daily talk, and (for
the majority of nuns who have dwelt in convents
from their early childhood) their extremely
limited education, cause a third of their number
to become insane, or at least monomaniacs. The
same fact, provoked by the same causes, has
been remarked in penitentiaries where the cellular
system is followed. And if isolation is
dangerous in the cooler climates of Europe and
America, how still more fatal must it prove in
hot, and especially in volcanic countries, where
man cannot, with impunity, allow his mental and
bodily powers to remain idle! Madame
Caracciolo saw enough to convince her that the
statistics of conventual seclusion, if they could
only be forthcoming, would afford startling

One nun could never touch paper; its
contact threw her into convulsions. Her lay sister
never left her a moment. When her mistress
recited the service, it was she who had to turn
the leaves. If a letter arrived, she had to break
the seal and hold it open until read through.
To keep her own secrets, the nun was therefore
obliged to be waited on solely by attendants who
had never learned the alphabet.

Another, whenever she heard mass on fĂȘte-
days, fell into a sort of catalepsy. If a current
of air ruffled the skirt of her garment, she began